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Pex Plumbing Lawsuit

PEX Lawsuit Investigationfor Tubing, Fitting Problems

January 26, 2016

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AT A GLANCE

This Alert Affects:Anyone who experienced leaking or other problems with their PEX piping.
What’s Going On?Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are asking to hear from homeowners who’ve experienced problems with their PEX tubing and fittings. They’re working to determine whether lawsuits can be filed but first need to hear from people like you to gather more information about the source of the PEX piping problems.
What Problems Are Being Reported?Leaking, flooding, fractures, low water pressure, overall failure of the PEX piping
What You Can Do:If you’ve had leaking or other problems with your PEX piping, get in touch with ClassAction.org today by filling out the form on this page. One of the attorneys we work with may then reach out to you directly to learn more about your problems and to explain how you could help get a class action started.
What’s the Catch?There is no catch. We’ve read through dozens of complaints from people who experienced problems with their PEX tubing and fittings – and we’re trying to connect them to attorneys for more help.
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Home Inspection Reports: What to Expect

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
Influenced by the changes in the economic and legal environments over the past 30 years, home inspection reports have changed to accommodate increased consumer expectations, and to provide more extensive information and protection to both inspectors and their clients.
Development of Standards
Prior to the mid-1970s, inspection reports followed no standard guidelines and, for the most part, there was little or no oversight or licensure. As might be imagined, without minimum standards to follow, the quality of inspection reports varied widely, and the home inspection industry was viewed with some suspicion.
With the founding of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in 1976, home inspection guidelines governing inspection report content became available in the form of a Standards of Practice. Over time, a second, larger trade association, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), came into existence, and developed its own standards.
InterNACHI has grown to dominate the inspection industry and, in addition to its Residential Standards of Practice, it has developed a comprehensive Standards of Practice for the Inspection of Commercial Properties.  Today, most types of inspections from mold to fire door inspections are performed in accordance with one of InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice.
As a consumer, you should take the time to examine the Standards of Practice followed by your inspector. If he is unaffiliated with any professional inspection organization, and his reports follow no particular standards, find another inspector.
Generally speaking, reports should describe the major home systems, their crucial components, and their operability, especially the ones in which failure can result in dangerous or expensive-to-correct conditions. Defects should be adequately described, and the report should include recommendations.
Reports should also disclaim portions of the home not inspected. Since home inspections are visual inspections, the parts of the home hidden behind floor, wall and ceiling coverings should be disclaimed.
Home inspectors are not experts in every system of the home, but are trained to recognize conditions that require a specialist inspection.
Home inspections are not technically exhaustive, so the inspector will not disassemble a furnace to examine the heat exchanger closely, for example.
Standards of Practice are designed to identify both the requirements of a home inspection and the limitations of an inspection.
Checklist and Narrative Reports
In the early years of the home inspection industry, home inspection reports consisted of a simple checklist, or a one- or two-page narrative report.
Checklist reports are just that; very little is actually written. The report is a series of boxes with short descriptions after them. Descriptions are often abbreviated, and might consist of only two or three words, such as “peeling paint.” The entire checklist might only be four or five pages long. Today, some inspection legal agreements are almost that long!
Because of the lack of detailed information, checklist reports leave a lot open to interpretation, so that buyers, sellers, agents, contractors, attorneys and judges may each interpret the information differently, depending on their motives.
In the inspection business, phrases that describe conditions found during an inspection are called “narratives.”  Narrative reports use reporting language that more completely describes each condition. Descriptions are not abbreviated.
Both checklist and narrative reports are still in use today, although many jurisdictions are now beginning to ban checklist reports because the limited information they offer has resulted in legal problems.
From the standpoint of liability, narrative reports are widely considered safer, since they provide more information and state it more clearly.
Many liability issues and problems with the inspection process are due to misunderstandings about what was to be included in the report, or about what the report says.
For example, in 2002, an investor bought a 14-unit hotel in California.  The six-page narrative report mentioned that flashing where the second-story concrete walkway met the building was improperly installed, and the condition could result in wood decay. Four years later, the investor paid out almost $100,000 to demolish and replace the entire upper walkway. In some places, it was possible to push a pencil through support beams.
Although the inspector’s report had mentioned the problem, it hadn’t made clear the seriousness of the condition, or the possible consequences of ignoring it. Today, a six-page report would be considered short for a small house.

 

Development of Reporting Software

Years ago, when computers were expensive to buy and difficult to operate, inspection reports were written by hand. As computers became simpler to operate and more affordable, inspection software began to appear on the market.

Today, using this software, an inspector can chose from a large number of organized boilerplate narratives that s/he can edit or add to in order to accommodate local conditions, since inspectors in a hot, humid city like Tampa Bay, Florida, are likely to find types of problems different from those found by inspectors in a cold, dry climate, like Salt Lake City, Utah.

Using narrative software and checking boxes in categories that represent the home systems, an inspector can produce a very detailed report in a relatively short time.

For example, using a checklist report, an inspector finding a number of inoperable lights in a home would check a box in the “INTERIOR” section labeled something like “some lights inoperable,” and that would be the limit of the information passed on to the client.

Using inspection software, in the “INTERIOR” section of the program, an inspector might check a box labeled “some lights inoperable.”  This would cause the following narrative to appear in the “INTERIOR” section of the inspection report:

“Some light fixtures in the home appeared to be inoperable. The bulbs may be burned out, or a problem may exist with the fixtures, wiring or switches.
If after the bulbs are replaced, these lights still fail to respond to the switch, this condition may represent a potential fire hazard, and the Inspector recommends that an evaluation and any necessary repairs be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.”

Standard disclaimers and other information can be pre-checked to automatically appear in each report.

Narrative Content

Narratives typically consists of three parts:

  1. a description of a condition of concern;
  2. a sentence or paragraph describing how serious the condition is, and the potential ramifications, answering questions such as, “Is it now stable, or will the problem continue?” or “Will it burn down the house?” and “When?”; and
  3. a recommendation. Recommendations may be for specific actions to be taken, or for further evaluation, but they should address problems in such a way that the reader of the report will understand how to proceed.

“Typically” is a key word here. Some narratives may simply give the ampacity of the main electrical disconnect. There is no need for more than one sentence. Different inspectors would include what they think is necessary.

Report Content

Inspection reports often begin with an informational section which gives general information about the home, such as the client’s name, the square footage, and the year the home was built.

Other information often listed outside the main body of the report, either near the beginning or near the end, are disclaimers, and sometimes a copy of the inspection agreement, and sometimes a copy of the Standards of Practice.  A page showing the inspector’s professional credentials, designations, affiliations and memberships is also often included.  And it is a good idea to include InterNACHI’s Now That You’ve Had a Home Inspection book.

Inspection reports often include a summary report listing major problems to ensure that important issues are not missed by the reader. It’s important that the reader be aware of safety issues or conditions which will be expensive to correct. With this in mind, some inspectors color-code report narratives, although many feel that color-coding exposes them to increased liability and don’t do this.

Software often gives inspectors the choice of including photographs in the main body of the report, near the narrative that describes them, or photographs may be grouped together toward the beginning or end of the report.

A table of contents is usually provided.

The main body of the report may be broken down into sections according to home systems, such as “ELECTRICAL,” “PLUMBING,” “HEATING,” etc., or it may be broken down by area of the home:  “EXTERIOR,” “INTERIOR,” “KITCHEN,” “BEDROOMS,” etc.

It often depends on how the inspector likes to work.

Sample Reports

Many inspectors have websites which include sample inspection reports for prospective clients to view. Take the time to look at them. Also often included is a page explaining the scope of the inspection. The inspection contract is usually included on the website, and it should give you a good idea of what will be included in the report.

In conclusion, for consumers to have realistic expectations about what information will be included in the home inspection report, follow these tips:

  • read the Standards of Practice;
  • read the Contract;
  • view a sample Inspection Report; and
  • talk with the inspector.

FHA Loan Basics

by Nick Gromicko

An FHA loan is a federal-assistance mortgage loan offered by qualified lenders and backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, soaring foreclosure and default rates led lenders to tighten their loan requirements to the detriment of the prospective homeowner. The FHA was created during this time to provide lending institutions (such as banks, savings and loan associations, and mortgage companies) with sufficient insurance to allow them to ease up on eligibility requirements for borrowers so that they could be approved for loans that they could not otherwise afford. If a borrower defaults on an FHA loan, the FHA pays off the mortgage from a reservoir of collected fees. The FHA funds this reservoir with fees charged to the borrower, such as an upfront mortgage insurance premium, and small, ongoing monthly fees.

FHA loans offer the following benefits over conventional loans:

  • low down payments. In general, the cost to the home buyer is approximately 0.75% to 1% less than conventional financing, meaning that they will need $1,500 to $2,000 less upfront to purchase a $200,000 home;
  • low closing costs. Closing costs are miscellaneous fees charged by those involved with the home sale, such as the surveyor, home inspector, the lender (for processing the loan), and the title company (for handling the paperwork). To get the most value for their dollar during closing, homeowners should make sure to hire only InterNACHI inspectors;
  • an easier time qualifying for credit, which is especially important for borrowers with no credit (although someone with poor credit will probably be ineligible for an FHA loan);
  • a greater ability to use “gifts” for the down payment. Most conventional lenders require the home buyer to pay a percentage of the loan’s cost from their own personal funds, while FHA loans may be gifted from family or friends;
  • no pre-payment penalty, which is a big plus for subprime borrowers;
  • a loan which may be assumable. Assumable loan obligations may be transferred to a qualified purchaser without the lender’s permission. Ideally, such loans are purchased during a period of low interest rates and sold later when these rates are higher. Veterans Administration loans also may be assumable, but conventional loans generally are not;
  • possible leniency or loan deferment during financial hard times; and
  • funding for home improvement through FHA 203k Programs.

How does a home buyer get an FHA loan?

Home buyers who wish to obtain FHA loans need to contact several lenders and ask them if they make FHA-backed loans. Bear in mind that each lender sets its own terms and rates, so comparison-shopping is critical. Next, the lender assesses the borrower for risk by examining their income level, debt-to-income ratio, credit repayment history, and expenses. Certain other factors are also considered, such as how the property will be used, how many units are on the property, and whether the borrower will actually live in the home. Note that prospective homeowners may be denied an FHA loan if they plan to rent the property out to others and not live in it themselves.

What are the limitations and disadvantages of an FHA loan?

  • lower loan amounts. FHA home loans have lower limits than what may be needed to buy the home of one’s dreams. Loans borrowed under Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, for instance, have much higher limits than FHA loans;
  • limited options. FHA loans were constructed to serve a particular segment of buyers, so the loans come with few variations. These more conservative loans are designed to limit lender losses; and
  • an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) equal to 1.5% of the base mortgage amount.

In summary, prospective homeowners considering FHA loans should weigh their individual finances, needs and credit history, along with the pros and cons unique to this type of mortgage.

 

Dryer Vent Safety

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
Clothes dryers evaporate the water from wet clothing by blowing hot air past them while they tumble inside a spinning drum. Heat is provided by an electrical heating element or gas burner. Some heavy garment loads can contain more than a gallon of water which, during the drying process, will become airborne water vapor and leave the dryer and home through an exhaust duct (more commonly known as a dryer vent).
A vent that exhausts moist air to the home’s exterior has a number of requirements:
  1. It should be connected. The connection is usually behind the dryer but may be beneath it. Look carefully to make sure it’s actually connected.
  2. It should not be restricted. Dryer vents are often made from flexible plastic or metal duct, which may be easily kinked or crushed where they exit the dryer and enter the wall or floor. This is often a problem since dryers tend to be tucked away into small areas with little room to work. Vent elbows are available which is designed to turn 90° in a limited space without restricting the flow of exhaust air. Restrictions should be noted in the inspector’s report. Airflow restrictions are a potential fire hazard.
  3. One of the reasons that restrictions are a potential fire hazard is that, along with water vapor evaporated out of wet clothes, the exhaust stream carries lint – highly flammable particles of clothing made of cotton and polyester. Lint can accumulate in an exhaust duct, reducing the dryer’s ability to expel heated water vapor, which then accumulates as heat energy within the machine. As the dryer overheats, mechanical failures can trigger sparks, which can cause lint trapped in the dryer vent to burst into flames. This condition can cause the whole house to burst into flames. Fires generally originate within the dryer but spread by escaping through the ventilation duct, incinerating trapped lint, and following its path into the building wall.
InterNACHI believes that house fires caused by dryers are far more common than are generally believed, a fact that can be appreciated upon reviewing statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires caused by dryers in 2005 were responsible for approximately 13,775 house fires, 418 injuries, 15 deaths, and $196 million in property damage. Most of these incidents occur in residences and are the result of improper lint cleanup and maintenance. Fortunately, these fires are very easy to prevent.
The recommendations outlined below reflect International Residential Code (IRC) SECTION M1502 CLOTHES DRYER EXHAUST guidelines:

M1502.5 Duct construction.
Exhaust ducts shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow. Exhaust ducts shall not be connected with sheet-metal screws or fastening means which extend into the duct.

This means that the flexible, ribbed vents used in the past should no longer be used. They should be noted as a potential fire hazard if observed during an inspection.
M1502.6 Duct length.
The maximum developed length of a clothes dryer exhaust duct shall not exceed 35 feet from the dryer location to the wall or roof termination. The maximum length of the duct shall be reduced 2.5 feet for each 45-degree (0.8 rad) bend, and 5 feet for each 90-degree (1.6 rad) bend. The maximum length of the exhaust duct does not include the transition duct.
This means that vents should also be as straight as possible and cannot be longer than 25 feet. Any 90-degree turns in the vent reduce this 25-foot number by 5 feet, since these turns restrict airflow.
A couple of exceptions exist:
  1. The IRC will defer to the manufacturer’s instruction, so if the manufacturer’s recommendation permits a longer exhaust vent, that’s acceptable. An inspector probably won’t have the manufacturer’s recommendations, and even if they do, confirming compliance with them exceeds the scope of a General Home Inspection.
  2. The IRC will allow large radius bends to be installed to reduce restrictions at turns, but confirming compliance requires performing engineering calculation in accordance with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, which definitely lies beyond the scope of a General Home Inspection.
M1502.2 Duct termination.
Exhaust ducts shall terminate on the outside of the building or shall be in accordance with the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions. Exhaust ducts shall terminate not less than 3 feet in any direction from openings into buildings. Exhaust duct terminations shall be equipped with a backdraft damper. Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.
Inspectors will see many dryer vents terminate in crawlspaces or attics where they deposit moisture, which can encourage the growth of mold, wood decay, or other material problems. Sometimes they will terminate just beneath attic ventilators. This is a defective installation. They must terminate at the exterior and away from a door or window. Also, screens may be present at the duct termination and can accumulate lint and should be noted as improper.

M1502.3 Duct size.
The diameter of the exhaust duct shall be as required by the clothes dryer’s listing and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Look for the exhaust duct size on the data plate.
M1502.4 Transition ducts.
Transition ducts shall not be concealed within construction. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system shall be limited to single lengths not to exceed 8 feet, and shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A.
Required support for lengthy ducts is covered by the following section:

M1502.4.2 Duct installation.
Exhaust ducts shall be supported at intervals not to exceed 12 feet and shall be secured in place. The insert end of the duct shall extend into the adjoining duct or fitting in the direction of airflow. Exhaust duct joints shall be sealed in accordance with Section M1601.4.1 and shall be mechanically fastened. Ducts shall not be joined with screws or similar fasteners that protrude more than 1/8-inch into the inside of the duct.

Additionally, makeup air for the laundry room in an amount equal to the sum – in cubic feet per minute (CFM) – of the dryer vent fan, and of any laundry room fans, must be supplied when both fans are operating. Depending on the laundry room’s size, this may approach 300 CFM. Makeup air would need to be supplied from some source. If the door is closed and there is no window, this may present a problem, including extended drying times and reduced dryer vent flow that can cause an excess accumulation of lint in the exhaust vent, which is a potential fire hazard.
In general, an inspector will not know specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local applicable codes and will not be able to confirm the dryer vent’s compliance to them, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors

by Nick Gromicko 

 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.

Facts and Figures

  • 480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.
  • Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.

Physiology of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When CO is inhaled, it displaces the oxygen that would ordinarily bind with hemoglobin, a process the effectively suffocates the body. CO can poison slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations. Sensitive organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.

High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations, it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) for more than eight hours may have adverse health affects. The limit of CO exposure for healthy workers, as prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is 50 ppm.

Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide


Any fuel-burning appliances which are malfunctioning or improperly installed can be a source of CO, such as:

  • furnaces;
  • stoves and ovens;
  • water heaters;
  • dryers;
  • room and space heaters;
  • fireplaces and wood stoves;
  • charcoal grills;
  • automobiles;
  • clogged chimneys or flues;
  • space heaters;
  • power tools that run on fuel;
  • gas and charcoal grills;
  • certain types of swimming pool heaters; and
  • boat engines.

PPM % CO
in air
Health Effects in Healthy Adults Source/Comments
0 0% no effects; this is the normal level in a properly operating heating appliance  
35 0.0035% maximum allowable workplace exposure limit for an eight-hour work shift The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
50 0.005% maximum allowable workplace exposure limit for an eight-hour work shift               OSHA
100 0.01% slight headache, fatigue, shortness of breath,
errors in judgment
125 0.0125%   workplace alarm must sound (OSHA)
200 0.02% headache, fatigue,
nausea, dizziness
400 0.04% severe headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion; can be life-threatening after three hours of exposure evacuate area immediately
800 0.08% convulsions, loss of consciousness;
death within three hours
evacuate area immediately
12,000 1.2% nearly instant death

CO Detector Placement

CO detectors can monitor exposure levels, but do not place them:

  • directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up;
  • within 15 feet of heating and cooking appliances, or in or near very humid areas, such as bathrooms;
  • within 5 feet of kitchen stoves and ovens, or near areas locations where household chemicals and bleach are stored (store such chemicals away from bathrooms and kitchens, whenever possible);
  • in garages, kitchens, furnace rooms, or in any extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas;
  • in direct sunlight, or in areas subjected to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawlspaces, unfinished attics, un-insulated or poorly insulated ceilings, and porches;
  • in turbulent air near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh-air returns, or open windows. Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the CO sensors.

Do place CO detectors:

  • within 10 feet of each bedroom door and near all sleeping areas, where it can wake sleepers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recommend that every home have at least one carbon monoxide detector for each floor of the home, and within hearing range of each sleeping area;
  • on every floor of your home, including the basement (source:  International Association of Fire Chiefs/IAFC);
  • near or over any attached garage. Carbon monoxide detectors are affected by excessive humidity and by close proximity to gas stoves (source:  City of New York);
  • near, but not directly above, combustion appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces, and in the garage (source:  UL); and
  • on the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances, and centrally located on every habitable level, and in every HVAC zone of the building (source:  National Fire Protection Association 720). This rule applies to commercial buildings.

In North America, some national, state and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes, as well as commercial businesses, among them:  Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and New York City, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Installers are encouraged to check with their local municipality to determine what specific requirements have been enacted in their jurisdiction.

How can I prevent CO poisoning?

  • Purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors with labels showing that they meet the requirements of the new UL standard 2034 or Comprehensive Safety Analysis 6.19 safety standards.
  • Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Have the heating system professionally inspected by an InterNACHI inspector and serviced annually to ensure proper operation. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
  • Never service fuel-burning appliances without the proper knowledge, skill and tools. Always refer to the owner’s manual when performing minor adjustments and when servicing fuel-burning equipment.
  • Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space, such as a garage, house or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in an enclosed area.
  • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never use gas appliances, such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Never operate un-vented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.
  • Do not place generators in the garage or close to the home. People lose power in their homes and get so excited about using their gas-powered generator that they don’t pay attention to where it is placed. The owner’s manual should explain how far the generator should be from the home.
  • Clean the chimney. Open the hatch at the bottom of the chimney to remove the ashes.  Hire a chimney sweep annually.
  • Check vents. Regularly inspect your home’s external vents to ensure they are not obscured by debris, dirt or snow.

In summary, carbon monoxide is a dangerous poison that can be created by various household appliances. CO detectors must be placed strategically throughout the home or business in order to alert occupants of high levels of the gas.

 

Aging in Place

by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko
 
 
“Aging in place” is the phenomenon describing senior citizens’ ability to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. Those who age in place will not have to move from their present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to their changing needs.

The Baby Boomers

As the baby boomers age, the 60+ population will spike from roughly 45 million in recent years to more than 70 million by 2020. Research shows that baby boomers’ expectations of how they will receive care differ from that of their parents’ generation.  Overwhelmingly, they will seek care in their own homes and will be less likely to move into congregate living settings.

Why do many senior citizens prefer to age in place?

Nursing homes, to many, represent a loss of freedom and a reduced quality of life. Here are a few good reasons why these fears are justified:

  • In 2007, inspectors received 37,150 complaints about conditions in nursing homes. Roughly one-fifth of the complaints verified by federal and state authorities involved the abuse or neglect of patients. Specific problems included infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and other forms of neglect.
  • The proportion of nursing homes cited for deficiencies ranged from 76% in Rhode Island to as high as 100% in Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.
  • Many cases have been exposed in which nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not provided.
  • A significant percentage of nursing homes had deficiencies that caused immediate jeopardy or actual harm to patients.

Aging-in-Place Inspections  

Inspectors may recommend corrections and adaptations to the home to improve maneuverability, accessibility, and safety for elderly occupants. Some such alterations and recommendations for a home are as follows:

Appliances:

    • microwave oven in wall or on counter;
    • refrigerator and freezer side by side;
    • side-swing or wall oven;
    • controls that  are easy to read;
    • raised washing machine and dryer;
    • front-loading washing machines;
    • raised dishwasher with push-button controls;
    • stoves having electric cooktops with level burners for safely transferring between the burners; front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot; and
    • replace old stoves with induction cooktops to help prevent burns.

Bathroom:

    • fold-down seat installed in the shower;
    • adjustable showerheads with 6-foot hose;
    • light in shower stall;
    • wall support, and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters and removable base cabinets;
    • contrasting color edge border at countertops;
    • at least one wheelchair-maneuverable bath on main level;
    • bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat and toilet for installation of grab bars;
    • if stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and wide;
    • low bathtub;
    • toilet higher than standard toilet, or height-adjustable;
    • design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand;
    • wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes; and
    • slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower.

Counters:

    • base cabinet with roll-out trays;
    • pull-down shelving;
    • wall support, and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters and removable base cabinets;
    • upper wall cabinetry lower than conventional height;
    • accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace;
    • counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances;
    • glass-front cabinet doors; and
    • open shelving for easy access to frequently used items.

Exterior:

    • low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick, etc); and
    • low-maintenance shrubs and plants.

Entry:

    • sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock;
    • non-slip flooring in foyer;
    • accessible path of travel to the home;
    • at least one no-step entry with a cover;
    • entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety;
    • doorbell in accessible location; and
    • a surface on which to place packages while opening door.

Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security:

    • install new smoke and CO detectors;
    • install automated lighting, an emergency alert system, or a video-monitoring system;
    • easy-to-see and read thermostats;
    • light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms;
    • light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom);
    • light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor;
    • move electrical cords out of the flow of traffic;
    • replace standard light switches with rocker or touch-light switches; and
    • pre-programmed thermostats.

Faucets:

    • thermostatic or anti-scald controls;
    • lever handles or pedal-controlled; and
    • pressure-balanced faucets.

Flooring:

    • if carpeted, use low-density with firm pad;
    • smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior; and
    • color and texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels.

Hallways:

    • wide;
    • well-lit; and
    • fasten down rugs and floor runners, and remove any that are not necessary.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning:

    • install energy-efficient units;
    • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible; and
    • windows that can be opened for cross-ventilation and fresh air.

Miscellaneous:

    • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances, or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns;
    • multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights;
    • loop handles for easy grip and pull;
    • pull-out spray faucet;
    • levered handles;
    • in multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom;
    • open under-counter seated work areas; and
    • placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas.

Overall Floor Plan:

    • main living on a single story, including full bath;
    • 5-foot by 5-foot clear turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom; and
    • no steps between rooms on a single level.

Reduced Maintenance and Convenience Features:

    • easy-to-clean surfaces;
    • built-in recycling system;
    • video phones;
    • central vacuum;
    • built-in pet feeding system; and
    • intercom system.

Stairways, Lifts and Elevators:

    • adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway;
    • residential elevator or lift; and
    • increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, and color contrast between treads and risers on stairs with use of lighting.

Storage:

    • lighting in closets;
    • adjustable closet rods and shelves; and
    • easy-open doors that do not obstruct access.

Windows:

    • plenty of windows for natural light;
    • low-maintenance exterior and interior finishes;
    • lowered windows, or taller windows with lower sill height; and
    • easy-to-operate hardware.

Advice for those who wish to age in place:

  • Talk with family members about your long-term living preferences. Do you want to downsize to a smaller single-family home, or do you plan to stay put in your traditional family home?
  • Take a look at your finances and retirement funds. With your current savings and assets, will you be able to pay for home maintenance? Consider starting a separate retirement savings account strictly for home maintenance.
  • Remodel your home before your mobility becomes limited. As you age, changes in mobility, hearing, vision and overall health and flexibility will affect how easily you function in your home. Consider making your home “age-friendly” as a phased-in and budgeted home improvement, rather than waiting until you need many modifications at a time due to a health crisis.
  • If you decide before you retire that you want to live in your current home through the remainder of life, consider paying for “big ticket – long life” home projects while you still have a healthy income. Such items may include having the roof assessed or replaced, replacing and upgrading the water heater or cooling unit, completing termite inspections and treatment, having a septic tank inspection and replacement, as needed, and purchasing a riding lawn mower.
  • InterNACHI advocates healthy living, as it plays a vital role in your ability to age in place. Most seniors leave their homes due to functional and mobility limitations that result from medical crises, and an inability to pay for support to stay with them in their home. Effectively managing health risks and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you stay strong, age well, and live long at your own home.
In summary, aging in place is a way by which senior citizens can avoid being dependent on others due to declining health and mobility.

The Best Florida Homeowners Insurance Companies

Florida has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, and for good reason. Of the 10 most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, seven hit Florida — and six occurred in 2004 and 2005. The state is still dealing with the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, which caused so much damage that one insurer recruited and trained real estate agents to help them handle the flood of insurance claims.

Hurricanes aren’t the only natural disasters to affect Florida — in 2016, the state ranked sixth in the nation for wildfires and seventh for tornadoes. Although Florida fell out of the top 10 for both of these extreme weather categories in 2017, it’s important to know the Sunshine State isn’t always sunny — living in Florida means being ready to take on dangerous weather.

There are a lot of factors that go into homeowners insurance rates, and you’re going to want to shop around to determine which provider can offer the best deal. But if you own a home in Florida, you need to be prepared to pay high premiums. The National Association of Insurance Commissionersreports that Florida homeowners with an HO-3 policy pay an average of $1,993 per year, compared to the national average of $1,173.

How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in Florida

We found that you’ll need to get to know some insurance companies you might not recognize — many of the big insurance providers avoid Florida, and the state’s top five providers include a few local insurers, one government option, and one good neighbor who stuck around.

We took a look at those top five providers and compared them using the same methodology and metrics we developed for our nationwide review of the Best Homeowners Insurance. We checked provider ratings with agencies like J.D. Power and A.M. Best, compared lists of policy options and discounts, and even called customer service to see what type of experience a client might get. Here’s how the five candidates stacked up.

The 5 Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in Florida

  • Tower Hill Insurance Group
  • State Farm
  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
  • Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc.
  • Federated National Insurance Company

Florida Homeowners Insurance Reviews

Tower Hill Insurance Group

Tower Hill is the second-largest insurance provider in Florida, but it provides some of the most extensive services, including coverage for water, sewer, valuables, and even identity theft. Tower Hill also offers its own flood insurance. Although Floridians can purchase flood insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, Tower Hill’s flood insurance provides coverage for up to $5 million in building replacement costs and $2.5 million in your home’s contents.

We found Tower Hill to be affordable when we compared insurance rates, especially given the comprehensive nature of coverage offered. Tower Hill’s Emerald Endorsement offers a package that can cover additional items, and its Imperial Shield program is designed to meet the needs of high-value homeowners. Not only is it affordable — it’s reliable: Tower Hill received an A- rating from A.M. Best, which means it is very likely to meet its financial commitments (i.e. pay your claims).

If you’re new to insurance, Tower Hill has a trove of resources available on its website to kickstart your research process. The willingness to help doesn’t stop there — Tower Hill’s customer service reputation is solid as well. It offers live chat, which is a great option for people who want questions answered in real time and don’t want to sit on hold. However, when we called Tower Hill’s customer service, we were able to connect with a representative in under a minute.

State Farm

State Farm is the only national insurer on our list, and it comes with a nationally-acclaimed reputation. It received an A++ rating from the A.M. Best — the highest possible ranking — and it offers a variety of coverages, including umbrella liability coverage, personal property coverage, and identity theft coverage. State Farm also includes a long list of discounts: If you’re looking for a multi-line discount for both auto and home insurance, for example, you might want to start with State Farm.

We appreciated State Farm’s easy-to-navigate website, its educational articles, and its customer service — as with Tower Hill, we were able to speak to a representative in under a minute. One of the biggest differences between State Farm and Tower Hill is the gap in rates. Upon comparing rates through the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, we noticed State Farm’s were, on average, more expensive than Tower Hill’s. It’s also important to note that, like many homeowners insurance policies, State Farm does not provide flood insurance — so you might have to look to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for coverage. Our suggestion: Compare State Farm and Tower Hill for yourself by speaking to an agent or asking for quotes from both, as rates will vary.

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

The state-backed insurance program is often called the “insurer of the last resort,” because it’s available to people who don’t have other insurance opportunities — but that doesn’t mean we need to put it last on our list. Citizens doesn’t offer as many coverage packages as Tower Hill or as many discounts as State Farm, but it does include options like personal property coverage and sinkhole damage coverage. You can also get discounts for installing fire or burglar alarms and installing wind-mitigation features in your home.

We were impressed with Citizens Property’s Learning Center — like Tower Hill, Citizens offers educational materials in both text and video form to help you better understand how to dissect policies. Unlike Tower Hill, Citizens Property caters to Spanish speakers. However, there is no online form to request a quote — you have to speak directly to an agent to do this or request any specific information.

We were less impressed with Citizens Property’s customer service. Although the representative we spoke with was able to answer our questions, we had to navigate through multiple phone trees with lengthy menu options just to get the opportunity to talk to a person.

Universal Insurance Holdings

Universal Insurance Holdings (subsidiary: Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company) is the largest insurance provider in Florida, but we weren’t hugely impressed with the company. Although basic coverages, like homeowners insurance and personal property insurance, were clearly listed and explained, the provider doesn’t give much information about additional coverages or discount options — the only discount mentioned concerned wind mitigation — and we couldn’t get any more detail by calling customer service.

Overall, Universal Property and Casualty has a sound reputation with an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau’s site. This means the majority of people are pleased with the company as a whole, however, the majority of complaints deal with products and less-than-stellar customer service.

Universal does offer an online quote tool (and live chat) that can actually be pretty helpful when trying to gauge the annual price of your policy. The more information you fill in about your home, the more accurate the estimate appears on the right hand side of the page. The tool even has a guide to help you explain each step of the process. You can fill in as much information as you want, gauge a price, and continue with the process or leave, conduct a quick comparison evaluation and come back later. This is more interactive and results-oriented than most of our other contenders, with online quote tools that end up directing you to an agent for more information. Granted, speaking to an agent will probably help you get you the most personalized and specific information possible.

FedNat Insurance Company

FedNat isn’t very forthcoming with information on its website (and neither is its customer service). Its website provides a single generic paragraph about the benefits of homeowner insurance before urging you to contact an agent for a quote. However, you can fill out a quote request online, and like Citizens Property, FedNat also caters to Spanish speakers.

You can also buy umbrella liability insurance and flood insurance through FedNat, but you aren’t going to learn much about these policies until you talk to an agent. There isn’t even a learning center to help you understand what types of insurance you might need as a homeowner.

Although the lack of information on FedNat’s website likely won’t satisfy an initial search, even with the online quote request tool, it certainly isn’t uncommon among local insurance providers. The trend isn’t going unnoticed, though. Insurance companies have historically favored human interaction for sales purposes, and this has caused a lag in their reach to millennials, especially. However, as more people look to the web for quick answers, there is a significant amount of pressure for insurance companies to adapt.

Guide to Homeowners Insurance in Florida

How much is homeowners insurance in Florida?

Make good use of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s online rate comparison tool to make informed decisions about insurance in your area, especially if a provider’s website urges you to pick up the phone in order to gain any inkling as to the policy’s specifics. Although this tool doesn’t give you a personalized quote, it does let you select from a few different sample homes and view typical insurance rates for that type of home in your county.

For example, when we looked at potential rates for a $300,000 new construction home in Polk county, we learned that Tower Hill offered the best rates, starting at $1,725. Meanwhile State Farm offered the most expensive rates at $4,690. You’ll want to get a quote of your own, but this tool can help you decide which insurers offer the lowest rates for your property and in your area.

Tower Hill Prime $1,725
Tower Hill Select $1,943
Tower Hill Preferred $1,980
Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company $2,011
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation $2,128
Tower Hill Signature $2,347
FedNat Insurance Company $2,370
State Farm Florida Insurance Company $4,690

Look for flood insurance

Flood insurance is a must in most Florida counties — but it won’t be included in a standard homeowners insurance policy. If your insurer doesn’t offer a separate flood insurance policy, you can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiative to ensure that homeowners in areas affected by floods have the opportunity to purchase coverage.

Prepare to pay for a hurricane deductible

Florida is among 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) that require homeowners to have hurricane deductibles in addition to their standard insurance deductible. Hurricane deductibles are calculated as a percentage of your total home value, and in Florida, these deductibles can be as high as 10 percent

Florida Homeowners Insurance FAQ

Why are Florida rates increasing?

Florida has high insurance rates to begin with, and they’re only getting higher — especially because Florida contractors are filing more and more assignment of benefits claims. In some cases, homeowners are unaware that they are even signing over their benefits. The Tampa Bay Times reported that “assign over the benefits (AOB)” claims have gone up by nearly 7,000 percent in the last decade — and the more insurance companies have to deal with AOB claims and lawsuits, the more they have to raise their rates to compensate.

What is an AOB claim?

Here’s how an AOB claim works: A contractor offers to fix a common household problem, such as a burst water pipe, while also asking homeowners to sign over their insurance benefits — essentially seeking payment from the insurance company. If a contractor independently approaches you about damage to your home, they might be trying to get an AOB claim out of you — so tell them you’re not interested. You can always hire your own contractor if you need one.

The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in Florida: Summed Up

Tower Hill Insurance Group State Farm Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. FedNat Insurance Company
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A- A++ Not rated Not rated Not rated
J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Score N/A 4/5 N/A N/A N/A
Online Quote Tool
Wayne Collier, Inspections For The Heartland and Beyond (Wayne Collier Home Inspections)


Pre sale,post sale,four point,wind mitigation and environmental reports. All types of dwellings. Serving West Central Florida Fl lic # HI5099 interNACHI member

Get to know Wayne Collier

For over 40 years have lived and worked in the Heartland area. Family construction/remodel business. Military Service 8 years with Honorable discharge and Florida state activated twice in Miami. First activation was security detail for the Pope and second was the Hurricane Andrew disaster.

Certifications

Being in the military and years of experience in various forms have given me real world experience in tough situations.

Attention to detail is something I pride myself on with the ability to know what is really important when dealing with componets of a home.

I practice my continual education with interNACHI as they provide the best of courses and information available to stay in step with my field.

CPI

Certified Wind Inspector

Certified 4 Point Inspector

Certified Roof Inspector

 

Specialties (12)
Languages (1)

Welcome to Wayne CollierI Home Inspections, your resource for obtaining      VA home inspection servicesBowling Green, Florida.

If you need a VA home inspector in West Central Florida who adheres by VA lender requirements you’ve come to the right place. The purchase of of any home is a big deal. But ,for those who need VA Home Inspection Services in West Central Florida it is crucial that your home inspector is qualified and knowledeable in VA lending requirements and procedures.

VA Home Inspection Services, Bowling Green FL

To schedule a home inspection or if you have any questions about our VA Home Inspetion Serivces, please call 863-990-4019 or email us at info@WayneCollierInspections.com.

Septic Systems

How to Care for Your Septic System

Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements:


Inspect and Pump Frequently

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year. A service contract is important since alternative systems have mechanized parts.

Four major factors influence the frequency of septic pumping:

  • Household size
  • Total wastewater generated
  • Volume of solids in wastewater
  • Septic tank size

Service provider coming? Here is what you need to know.

When you call a septic service provider, he or she will inspect for leaks and examine the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank.

Keep maintenance records on work performed on your septic system.

Your septic tank includes a T-shaped outlet which prevents sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling to the drainfield area. If the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, or if the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, your tank needs to be pumped.

To keep track of when to pump out your tank, write down the sludge and scum levels found by the septic professional.

The service provider should note repairs completed and the tank condition in your system’s service report. If other repairs are recommended, hire a repair person soon.

The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) has a septic locator that makes it easy to find service professionals in your area.

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Use Water Efficiently

The average indoor water use in a typical single-family home is nearly 70 gallons per individual, per day. Just a single leaky or running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day.

All of the water a household sends down its pipes winds up in its septic system. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system. Efficient water use improves the operation of a septic system and reduces the risk of failure.

EPA’s WaterSense program has many simple ways to save water and water-efficient products.

  • High-efficiency toilets.Toilet use accounts for 25 to 30 percent of household water use. Many older homes have toilets with 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs, while newer, high-efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. Replacing existing toilets with high-efficiency models is an easy way to reduce the amount of household water entering your septic system.
  • Faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads.Faucet aerators, high-efficiency showerheads, and shower flow restrictors help reduce water use and the volume of water entering your septic system.
  • Washing machines.Washing small loads of laundry on your washing machine’s large-load cycle wastes water and energy. By selecting the proper load size, you will reduce water waste. If you are unable to select a load size, run only full loads of laundry.

    Try to spread washing machine use throughout the week. Doing all household laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver; but it can harm your septic system, not allow your septic tank enough time to treat waste, and could flood your drainfield

    Clothes washers that bear the ENERGY STAR label use 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than standard models. Other Energy Star appliances provide significant energy and water savings.

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Properly Dispose of Waste

Whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bath, everything that goes down your drains ends up in your septic system. What goes down the drain affects how well your septic system works.

Toilets aren’t trash cans!

Your septic system is not a trash can. An easy rule of thumb: Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Never flush:

  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Flushable wipes
  • Photographic solutions
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners

Think at the sink!

Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. Pouring toxins down your drain can kill these organisms and harm your septic system. Whether you are at the kitchen sink, bathtub, or utility sink:

  • Avoid chemical drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake.
  • Never pour cooking oil or grease down the drain.
  • Never pour oil-based paints, solvents, or large volumes of toxic cleaners down the drain. Even latex paint waste should be minimized.
  • Eliminate or limit the use of a garbage disposal. This will significantly reduce the amount of fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic tank and ultimately clog its drainfield.

Own a recreational vehicle (RV), boat or mobile home?

If you spend any time in an RV or boat, you probably know about the problem of odors from sewage holding tanks.

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Maintain Your Drainfield

Your drainfield—a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank—is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few things you should do to maintain it:

  • Parking: Never park or drive on your drainfield.
  • Planting: Plant trees the appropriate distance from your drainfield to keep roots from growing into your septic system. A septic service professional can advise you of the proper distance, depending on your septic tank and landscape.
  • Placing: Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drainfield area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.

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